A Look at 26-Year-Old Saudi Arabian Artist Basmah Felemban

Over the last year, Saudi Arabia’s art scene has been exploding in the region and beyond, most recently with exhibitions such as “Zamakan,” which brought together the works of 11 of the country’s top contemporary artists. In this supportive and growing environment for arts and culture, more of the Kingdom’s young contemporary artists are making a name for themselves, such as Basmah Felemban, a self-taught graphic designer from Jeddah who also owns her own studio in the city of her birth.

According to the Edge of Arabia website, Felemban was born in Jeddah in 1993, and has lived and studied between Saudi Arabia and the United Kingdom. The young artist worked in various fields during and after graduating high school in 2011, and she then graduated in 2017 with an MA in Islamic and Traditional Art from the Prince’s School of Traditional Arts in London.   

From the many works she has created over the course of her earlier pursuit of the arts, the one that clearly marked her shift from purely graphic design to contemporary arts is “Jeem,” which made its debut at the British Museum in 2012 as a sideshow to “Journey To The Heart of Islam: Hajj Exhibition.” Two years later, Felemban won The Arab Women Awards in the “Young Talent” category, and was then invited to be on the judging panel the following year.

As a young creative now based in Saudi Arabia, Felemban is an avid supporter of Kingdom’s local creative scene, often participating in workshops, talks, and utilizing her social media platforms in a way that provides inspiration to others. Over the course of her short career, Felemban has already exhibited in many international and local exhibitions including Art Dubai, 21/39, contemporary art Istanbul, Venice Biennale, and Art Abu Dhabi.

Speaking in a recent article by Harper’s Bazaar, the young Saudi artists talked about the importance of having her own creative space, saying, “My studio is more like a study. It’s a place where I can research, write, take notes and sketch. For the production of my work, I like to go to the source of the material. Last year, I went to Egypt to work with copper craftsmen for one of my pieces. I feel like now, I am going through a traditional phase and my relationship with my studio is evolving with time.”

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